Simla Elementary School kindergarten teacher Holly Koehn's classroom at the Big Sandy School Monday, February 25, 2019. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

By Anne Schimke, Chalkbeat Colorado

Stop by any education job fair and you’ll see recruiting signs for special education teachers everywhere — often with the promise of signing bonuses worth thousands of dollars.  

But hiring such teachers is no guarantee they’ll stay. In fact, a new study on teacher mobility and attrition reveals that special education teachers are more than twice as likely as other teachers to change schools in Colorado. For administrators, that can mean scrambling to fill vacancies, and for students and families, uncertainty, frustration, or even lower achievement. 

The study, published this week by the Denver-based Regional Educational Laboratory Central, examined staffing data and change in Colorado, Missouri, and South Dakota between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years. 

Trudy Cherasaro, director of the laboratory, said the findings about special education teachers likely won’t surprise most education leaders but, “when you have that data it’s easier to start talking about policies.” 

She said the laboratory is working with the state education department to plan two meetings this fall to review teacher mobility and attrition data and talk about potential solutions with key education leaders. The Regional Educational Laboratory Central is one of 10 federal-funded laboratories that conduct research for and provide technical assistance to states in their service area.